Archive for April, 2011

I think I shall one day be

an old woman,

beautiful in my ancient age

tissue-paper-thin, softly sagging

skin, wrinkles and creases,

my snowy hair wild, like it was

when I was younger

with tiny bits of shells, aged twine,

and slips of hardened sea weed in it.

Possibly even the long longed-for dreads.

I’d finally have the nerve

and wouldn’t care what people think.

Chimes of patinated copper and driftwood,

broken chunks of china and bleached bird bones,

gently moving in the breeze

as I sit gazing

from my old white-washed porch

with a screen door

palm tree branches swaying,

sand and sea salt dried on my bare feet

from the morning walk

I shall take my basket of gathered treasures –

gifts from the sea

frosted bits of sea glass, tiny long-abandoned

homes of sea snails, wire, wood,

and shells,

perfect in their imperfection

broken, tumbled, and worn

and I shall string, hammer, wrap and concoct

them into beautiful baubles,

whimsical wearable  

art to adorn

others who adore the sea’s treasures.

and I shall muse

and reflect

on my terribly painful, infinitely joyful journey

thus far

and smile.


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About 10 days ago I received a brief e-mail from the dear friend who started me on this ‘blog trail;’  in which she stated right up front – direct and to the point –  ” I hope you’re going to keep this up……..” was her  loaded rhetorical question.  A wave of panic gave me a momentary hug…..
“EEEEKK”  – what did she mean by “keep this up” ?!!   a blog a day ?  two a week ?  two a month ??
I started to sweat – because life ‘DOES GO ON’  you know………  and writing ‘blogs’ is all very well – I mean it’s a creative outlet yes,  …….   it’s even therapeutic I guess …….  but it  IS  awfully time consuming !    and honestly, it happens every single time I sit down at the computer and try to write a letter (let alone a ‘blog’! ) there will be atleast 12 – 14 interruptions per the ‘allotted’ time for writing the letter ! ( which inevitably turns into a whole day anyway..) and it aint’ the ‘goomble-man’ that interrupts me;  –  or, come to think of it,  perhaps it is, in a different guise…. in which case it’s more like the ‘goomble-MEN’ !!  ( ‘goomble’ action more precisely, would be when the electricity goes off suddenly, or the computer won’t function, or you get an electric shock and pass-out…..)
But my inadvertant ‘goomble-men’ are two able-bodied young fella’s, who help me maintain and develop this little slice of secreted paradise nestling in the mountains. Indeed,  heaven it is, but the chores are exaggeratedly mundane; including doing one’s own housework………. years ago,  I used to think it was only kids under the age of 5 who interrupted your private toilet ablutions, showers, telephone calls,  cooking or clothes-washing.   (And one could enlarge on these points, but for the sake of brevity, let’s not.)  Because therein lies many a ‘BLOG’…………………………
It has dawned on me however, in these my late autumnal years, that ‘interruptions’ has to do with having ‘dependants’ – of any kind.    Dogs, cats, children, workmen, domestics, aged mothers with access to phones, well-intentioned neighbours –  and so forth and so on.  There has to be a proverb somewhere, which says  “Get down on it –  and you WILL be interrupted”!
So my projected days of halcyon peace and quiet have devolved into a ‘minestroni’ of knock-knock-knocks’- followed by, ( to me ! ) completely unintelligible requests !  “Mevrou………”  and the rest is simply a cacophany of staccato sounds ……..  I could be on planet Sirius, I kid you not !  so the process of ultimate comprehension is as follows.   I stare very intently at their faces while  the fired sentences shoot into the air;   I stall for time by either fidgeting, or scratching bird-poo off the back door – and try to look earnest and not confused.  I wait for the unseen ‘haze of vocab’ to drift through my auditory ‘osmosis’ system and hopefully filter a few key-words which would indicate the nature of the request or question.  (the frown lines on my face are much more deeply etched these last 3 yrs by the way……)  By 12 noon on a Friday, I am a nervous wreck and devoid of any desire, whatsoever,  to interact with ANY other human-being for the next 48 hrs (preferably 72 ! but atleast 48….) and usually spend Saturday in my pajamas and mostly in bed !!  now how’zat for a ‘true confession’ from a ‘Karoo Princess’ ??!
Just to tell you, up to this point I have had 5 phone-calls (and those in themselves would make up a blog!) a computer that has decided, of it’s OWN accord,  to switch to a different print-size and won’t change back ! (that’s a ‘goomble’ by the way….)  Knock,knock,knock and a request for ‘toilet-papier’,  (another blog)   ‘vieretjies/matches’, (to burn refuse;  another blog….)  ‘a knock to tell me ‘rotta vreet die irrigation-pype’ (rats have chewed the irrigation pipes (another blog)  ‘sprinkane die size of rotta'(grasshoppers the size of rats!) steek-weg onder die plante! (are hiding under the plants) (would you say that could be another blog in the making ? ‘Darth- veda’ type grasshoppers etc.) another knock to report ‘n’ dooie volstruis teen die draad/a dead ostrich at the fence……. ( easily another blog)……..  then a full-on coffee-break with sandwiches – yes that’s my fault I know…. but I do it and that’s that ……. (another blog probably- in fact, I will make it a blog )………
In the above time, which is 3 hrs  so far –  what should or could I have done ?    a pile of hand-washing…… a call to the conveyancers (very necessary) a call to JHB ex Caretaker, a call to the Electrician about some certificate or other, a lengthy call to my sister (in George) re the on-going saga about my mother and the old-age home, (a huge blog, but who’d be interested !)  a call to my other sister (in JHB) for her opinion,  a call to a friend (in JHB) whose had a heart-bypass (what a night-mare!  easily another blog) Research re my hobby – which maybe I’ll turn into blogs’ later………  Look I could go on and on about daily demands –  we all have them.   It’s called “Life”……… and I guess that’s the POINT……….. the actual point of this blog.
One’s “Life” is a mosaic is it not…….  reflecting who one is, via  our decisions, experiences, reactions, choices, capacities (at first intrinsic, later learned….) hopes, dreams and wishes…….
the in’s the outs’,  the up’s and downs’ (all sounding trite no doubt, but valid never-theless…..)  and all those exposures and participations’ conjoin and make up the Mosaic of who we are.
SO in the end we ARE our very own  Adventure………  ‘vieretjies’, rotta, dooie volstruise and the ‘writing of blogs’  –  each adds a colour and a shape to the overal  design which ultimately just happens to be ME.

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‘An ‘OOPS’  is the acronym for ‘Out Of Place’ objects found, not belonging to the period, place, or culture where they are discovered – hence posing a problem and embarassment to Museums and archeologists who cannot explain their exisitence.’ (Sitchen book)  My only comment to that is, should I have chosen to be an archeologist, rather than feel embarassed about such discoveries, I would have made a point of collecting as many OOPs’s as I could possibly lay my hands on !  what a ‘cache of rarity’  that would have been………
Funnily enough, in my mid thirties, I in fact acquired ONE such ‘semi-rarity’.  I suppose one would call it a  ‘ceramic’ vase (possibly a jug – the neck had broken away)  dark charcoal  grey in colour, (unpainted) and covered with a pattern of flowers and vines in relief –  about 12 cm high.   There was simply “something” about the vase that appealed to me at the time…………
Never being one to ignore non-descript little ‘Junk Shops’ –  I had popped in for a quick browse in Orange Grove, (Johannesburg) and quizzed the padrone, a young Italian lad with the most enviable eye-lashes I’d ever seen ! what the origens of this particular junk piece might be ?   he replied  he had  visited friends in Italy, whose passion was snorkling in the Mediterranean and who had spotted the object, three-quarters buried in sand – (I forgot to ask the area) – and he’d brought it back for the shop he intended opening.  He was about nineteen and did’nt know much more about the artefact than that.  I bought it because I fancied having something “antigue’ on my shelves at home.
During the course of the following forty  years, the vase generated much interest among friends and visitors, subsequently taking my imagination on ‘flights of fancy.’  ” Perhaps it would prove to be like finding a Frans Oerder painting, or  Moorcroft pottery,  a Minoan piece ?  –  maybe Hadrian tossed it overboard in a fit of pique” !!   certain forages among local bric-a-brac shops ensued;  even a visit to Sotheby’s, hoping my prized possesion would somehow alter the status of my chronic impecunious life-style !   Everyone I saw,  showed interest and curiosity, along with individual speculation…… “perhaps it’s from…….”
But it remained enigmatic – it’s secret confined within it’s charcoal mud.   Sotheby’s JHB did’nt know – but commented it was ‘an interesting piece’ and that I should take it with me on my next trip to London and have their expert appraise it. (yeah right !   I must pay for the trip and schlepp this thing halfway across the world, because THEIR JHB offices were too doos useless –  and in the end risk being told it was typical of housewives’ pottery during ‘World-War II’  and often made such pieces at their kitchen table in Perugia……..)     In the end it remained packed away and was  always part of my almost annual moves incidently.
My most recent move, which has lasted three years so far, finds me in the Swartberg mountains minding my own business – (and very tired of moving I might add.)  Residing in a converted stable, surrounded by soul-nurturing mountains and vistas, fresh air – and chilling baboon calls and fights !  I venture to say, I have been undergoing a gradual metamorphosis .  The need to ‘Be-Do-Have’ is  simply evaporating.
Perhaps this narration in the end is going to prove a bit of an anti-climax to you as a reader  –  or more so if you’re a Collector !!  it’s going to be like telling one of those “shaggy-dog” stories……..
But it was NOT an anti-climax to the recipient of ‘The Vase’ last weekend – when I gave it as a birthday-present to a neighbour, who himself is a Ceramic Artist and an inveterate Collector of “things particular”
I simply felt HE was the right person to receive  ‘the mysterious Vase’…………
I figured, that  added to the pleasure of receiving something unusual and interesting and up his boulevarde,  he would have to boot,  the added excitement and pleasure of trying to unveil it’s ‘mystery’ for himself !
In a sense, this ‘little slice of life’ could still end up having a ‘Grande` Finale` one day …… depending……………..    so for his sake, keep your fingers crossed and we might have a sequel.

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Re your comment –   and I quote from your letter –  “like you I ended up with an Italian surname”………..   yeah !….. once upon a time maybe, I had one – but once the Ite was gone,  I ditched the name as well !!  why keep his name if the guy was missing ?……. before the Ite name Dellocca, a previous ‘ once upon a time’ I was a McGillivray. Took me over a year to get used to using that name! For starters, YOU try spelling THAT name, in it’s entirety, daily, to Clerks behind the counters, who,  each time you bought something, the docket was hand-written showing the purchasers name ( am I honestly that old ?! do I go THAT far back ?  they were actually handwriting sales dockets !)  anyway – that’s what they used do……..   So when ‘hubbly-bubbley’ took his Northwards flight, new Canadian wife in tow –   why would I keep  HIS name and be weighted down with McGILLIVRAY forever ? – the marriage experience was heavy enough thank you ! –
and in the second instance,  the name ‘Dellocca’ meant ‘Of the Goose’ – which is  ‘Van de Gaans’ !! –  I did’nt want that either……..  I mean it was’nt as though I was ditching  ‘da Vinci, Gucci, or Armani ‘ now was it ?……….
So in the end, decided to have a ‘make-over’ and went the ‘whole hog’ – changed the ruddy lot, christian and sur….  by ‘Deed of Poll.’   I lay  claim to the double-barrell surname of my Grandfather I  (or perhaps even my Great-grandfather )  ‘Waylett-Coxen’ and changed the name Noreen (because really, Noreen, Doreen, Maureen, Corine – ‘boreeng’ !!)   to Alexis – hence I am  today known as Alexis Waylett-Coxen. Toyed with keeping my original second name, Emray, a mixture of Emelia and Rachel from my two grandmothers ( one German, one Scots.).   But to sign, let alone say, ‘ Alexis Emray Waylett-Coxen’ had a cadre of ‘diddledy-diddledy-diddledy-dah’ to it – and remined me of the Voortrekkers   ‘Jakobus, Stefanus, Gerhardus, Hendrikus, Werklikheid, Heerlikheid Van der Westhuizen’ !! –  kinda like same  never-ending story !  besides,  you run out of oxygen saying your name……
Thinking back though, there had been  a bit of outside nudge for going the ‘Deed of Poll’ route.  I’d run into a Numerologist in a Hotel Foyer in Cape Town, who’d done an analysis of the then name Noreen Emray Dellocca – and he’d said that my name was in effect “snarling up my energies” – working against me !!
“Was that why I felt my totem was a dung-beetle”  ? and at that,  only ever managing to collect itsy-bitsy ‘sheep-droppings’ instead of  full-blown ‘cow-patties’ let alone an occassional ‘elephant whopper’?  I needed to make some ‘moolah’ –  all the theatrics in my life to this point, had been pickings !!
He gave me the assurance that if I changed my name my energies would change and I would start a whole new cycle in life !!   (and they say woman are gullible – really ? )  ( well I guess,  sort of …….  O.K. – maybe at 40,  yes –  but not at 70 !!)   At the time, I had so much wanted to ease the lot of my marginal life-style.
After the forty day ‘Deed of Poll’ process (of note)  the anticipated ‘fame and fortune’ of the  name-change, initially served me a curved-ball with a measure of ‘notoriety’ instead. ( And I must mention, I even changed in order that new people would meet me as…. Uno Hoo.)    But no sooner was I insisting on being called ‘Alexis’, than ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ hit the S.A. screens, starring  ‘SUPER-BITCH’ (Joan Collins) as ALEXIS Carrington !!   No two ways about it – I was stuck with it  –   FOR YEARS………..    And often had to endure from people, asides such as ‘hope you’re not like Alexis Carrington and this deal is legit ?!  – or will go thru’ –  or I won’t be crooked’ –  always followed by a conspiratorial  winkety-wink and a huh-huh-huh chuckle……….   (  I can tell you, the thought of ‘having the name, I should have the game’ on occassions did flit across my screen.)
In the end, I ‘ fell between two stools’ in a way.   My old friends and especially family members, simply battled too long and too hard to make the switch  (as you and Mal can attest to,a whole 30 yrs later ! )  and the new friends calling me Alexis sounded odd at some level. The friendships did’nt seem to run as deep……
A niece teasingly used to ‘holler’out in Shopping Centres, or when calling me for meals ‘TANNIE LEXXXUUUUSSS’ !!
One friend simply nick-named me ‘Norexus’  (mixing Noreen/Alexis) which almost eclipsed  the new name Alexis !!
A lot of people called me ‘Lexi’  which made me recoil as tho’  touching a nerve !
In an odd way, I don’t identify with either name anymore …….  when it comes to signing letters – especially to old friends and family members, I tend to simply sign off as  ‘ME’…………
If I were to have a Tomb-Stone one day – (which I’m not going to! they’re too expensive…  but IF I were to…..)   for the benefit of the Ressurecting Angels, a sort of “X marks the spot of Two” – it will have to read  ” To Whom It May Concern – as well as Avoid Confusion – ‘Here lies Noreen Emray Coxen – born 6/12/1939  and jointly and severaly  Alexis Waylett-Coxen  born sometime early  1979 – PLEASE NOTE –  SAME PERSON.  “
I mean, imagine if only half of me was ressurected ??

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Fact or Fiction

Written by Carol Botha

We are tucked away in the minor Orion-Cygnus arm (spur) of the Milky Way Galaxy. Much of our own galaxy and the Universe out there is obscured by thick dust and gas, yet sophisticated technology has enabled scientists to peer into the vast unknown we are bombarded with a daily dose of new information.

News headlines grab our attention: Cosmos has triple the amount of stars, Milky Way Galaxy’s spiral arms go missing or Bumper crop of super-Earths revealed. Yet, do headlines reveal the whole truth.

Before we build underground bunkers and stock up on supplies we should study the content of articles which, more often than not, include phrases like “new observations suggest, no one knows exactly, if these new results are proved to be correct”, based on assumptions” or “we may not yet know”

Did the Milky Way’s spirals really go missing? Astronomers assumed that all four arms should be brightly lit by star formation but then observations made by the Spitzer Space Telescope showed two arms to be much fainter. Alien Astronomers in neighbouring galaxies with a face-on view of our galaxy could maybe provide us with an accurate answer.

How many stars are there in the Universe? Just when we were coming to grips with the vast amount of mysterious dark matter out there, the Keck telescopes in Hawaii were pointed towards the cores of eight galaxies between 50 million and 300 million light years away. They saw five to ten times more stars than ever before and came to the conclusion that the stars in the Universe could have been underestimated by a factor of three. Thus the amount of Dark Matter could actually be less.

Has an Earth-like planet been discovered? We are counting on NASA’s Kepler satellite to find a planet habitable to life within a few years.

In man’s quest to unveil the secrets of the Universe, ifs and maybes will be in abundance.

Although today’s fact could be tomorrow’s fiction, my ticket is booked on this extreme roller coaster ride to the outer edges of the Universe.



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